I’m coming down with a flu bug. That’s the last thing I need. I leave Ukraine in just over two weeks and still have so much to do. This afternoon I went to a hotel and paid to use their spa–a Jacuzzi, sauna and massage were just what I needed. On the way back to my host’s home I stopped to eat.
Then I got the call.
Ed, my host said that a man named “Viktor” had phoned from Kuty, Ukraine, my maternal grandfather’s birthplace. Viktor had been told that the priest in the Greek Catholic church had announced during mass that a man from America was looking for distant relatives of Teodor Bakun, who had immigrated to Canada with his family in the early 1900’s.
Viktor told Ed’s wife, Natasha, that he was Teodor’s great-grandson. Teodor Bakun had been married to a woman named Maria Michalishyn who had died at an early age. They had a daughter together, Viktor’s grandmother. Viktor’s grandmother had a son, Viktor’s father.
Viktor’s father would be the grandson to my grandfather–the same generation I am in. He would be my first cousin. Viktor is my first cousin, once removed. They live in Kuty. Fortunately, both he and his parents apparently speak conversational English and want me to call tomorrow. Viktor knows this family information because it has been passed down through the generations–just as the priest told me has been done.
How did Grandpa’s first wife die? Why did he leave a daughter behind in Ukraine? Why didn’t he bring her into his new family when he married my grandmother? Who raised his daughter? Who did she marry? How much do they know about my great-grandparents, and the generations further back?
I’m in a state of shock. But I’m not worried. I will be going back to Kuty very soon. Maybe I’ll stay in Ukraine a bit longer.